HSE campaign follows scrap-yard death

    24 Sep 2008

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    The HSE is launching a national inspection campaign targeting those working with scrap metal after a company was fined £60,000 for a breach of health and safety which resulted in the death of an employee.

    64-year-old Tommy Mooney was killed whilst working for Reliance Scrap-Metal Merchants (Parkstone) Limited in Poole, Dorset, in an accident which occurred on 9 May 2005.

    Mr Matthews was using a crusher/compactor machine to crush and shear a number of pressured cylinders, which were being hand fed into the shear blade of the machine and held there until cut. When an acetylene cylinder was crushed by the guillotine blade of the machine, an explosion and fireball occurred, seriously burning both men.

    Emergency services were called to the site and Tommy Mooney was transferred to Poole Hospital but died from his injuries the same day. A joint investigation was launched by the Dorset Police and the HSE, with charges being brought against both the company and David Matthews.

    Collectively, they were found guilty of a number of breaches of health and safety legislation.

    Mr Matthews was fined a total of £1,000, being found guilty of having breached section 37 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 with respect to having failed to discharge a duty under sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Act.

    Reliance Scrap Metal (Parkstone) Limited was ordered to pay £60,000 for a breach of regulation 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999. A prior sum of £90,000 was reduced due to an early guilty plea.

    The company was further found guilty of breaches of sections 2(1) and 3(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, and of regulations 4 and 12(3)(e) of the Provision of Work Equipment Regulations 1998.

    Costs have yet to be determined.

    The BBC has reported that as a result of the incident, Mr Matthews and another company director, Michael Anderson, received prison sentences for breaches of legislation not relating to health and safety.

    David Bell, key HSE inspector on the case, says:

    “I urge the scrap industry to think very carefully about how it deals with gas cylinders. They should never by cut or crushed and [companies should] remember that most cylinders remain the property of a gas company and should be returned."

    Where cylinder owners cannot be identified, the ‘orphaned’ cylinders can be retrieved by a specialist cylinder retrieval company. The HSE has produced guidance on the issue of orphaned compressed gas cylinders, which can be accessed here >>

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